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TED: Are Droids Taking Our Jobs? (They are...but we ain't seen nothin' yet.)

Revolution? There is a real revolution going on here:



From TED: Robots and algorithms are getting good at jobs like building cars, writing articles, translating -- jobs that once required a human. So what will we humans do for work? Andrew McAfee walks through recent labor data to say: We ain't seen nothing yet. But then he steps back to look at big history, and comes up with a surprising and even thrilling view of what comes next. (Filmed at TEDxBoston.)

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mike check out my new post dealing with exactly this

technological unemployment

and here is a treasury trove of crowd sourced info on this subject if some of you think it's not possible...

It's not only possible it's inevitable and will happen faster then you think.

Tools of war are not always obvious. The worst weapon is an idea planted in the mind of man. Prejudices can kill, suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has an everlasting fallout all of its own.

I already have plans on how

I already have plans on how I'll make money with my robots.


“Let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it’s realized that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy.”
― Ron Paul

Total Rubbish

Sure robots will get better, but this guys projections are delusional. We are Austrian economists aren't we... Hayek anyone. The only thing that will endanger jobs is centralized control with the FED at the centre incl endless funding for DARPA that will create drones to enslave us all.

more work for robot technicians.

more work for robot technicians.


Some people are just eternal optimists. I agree with Voltaire... "Our labor keeps off from us the three great evils: boredom, vice, and want." - Voltaire

With free time, people will not solve the world's problems. Humans are selfish by nature. They will concentrate on themselves.

Cyril's picture

Yes, and planners

Yes, and planners get all of their free time, and own wealth, only from the sweat, and headaches, of others.


"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Wrong Wrong Wrong

The "machines will take our jobs" is based on a logical fallacy. It is the fallacy that workers who are displaced by a machine will not find a more produtive use for their labor.

This is the EXACT SAME ARGUMENT that Marx used: That specialization, division of labor, and mechanization will render "workers" destitute.

It's wrong, wrong, wrong!

The expansion in incomes and living standards of the working class due to the industrial revolution is UNDENIABLE and IRREFUTABLE. Real incomes DOUBLED in the U.S.A. from 1870 to 1880 due to machines taking jobs away from hand assemblers.

This erroneous Luddite idea can be exploded so easily.

If you ascribe to it, I suggest you immediately unplug all your machines and perform all your work by hand. No more dishwasher, no more washing machine, no more car, etc. You will certainly find that the number of "jobs" you now have will increase, probably by 10 fold, as you toil away 23 hours a day. But will you be any better off? Of course not.

"Droids" are capital. Increases to the capital stock increase the productivity of labor and drive wages UP, not down.

Once, when Milton Friedman was shown the construction of a canal by a bureacrat, Friedman asked hm "Why are they digging it with shovels?" The bureaucrat replied, "Because it creates more jobs when the do it by hand." To which, Friedman replied, "Then why not make them dig it with spoons.?"

Cyril's picture

I completely agree with you.

I completely agree with you.

Increasing the number, importance, or magnitude of menial tasks to be performed by captive labor, more numerous and "dumbed down", only profits the PLANNERS who CONTROL, REGULATE, and FEED on the same labor ... while, themselves, produce NOTHING but misery by NECESSARILY sub optimal AND unjust redistribution of wealth/private property (when not downright denied).

This is precisely by going away from hard, captive labour that the lever of man's natural inventivity is BEST USED by whoever is willing to take more risks (in any extent), for oneself, to create MORE OPPORTUNITIES for creativity and the inception of NEW BUSINESSES and/or NEW MARKETS or NEW WAYS TO IMPROVE on the legacy, or even new consumer needs, FOR ONESELF AND OTHERS, rewarding the same who fulfill them first and best, thru entrepreneur minds. Hence : better chances of prosperity by free markets and fair competition. Where losers, ideas or people, lose, and where winners win.

And the thing is : with true LIBERTY, since No Man is an Island, no one is doomed to always be a loser, with compassionate, familiar communities around (unless everybody else has to hate you for some good reason).

Marx's ill-logics (and, I suspect, PURPOSEDLY MADE), or fallacy, was to PUT and TO CHALLENGE/OVERTHROW EVERYTHING he would consider on one side ONLY of the balance : the ownership of the means of production.

He carefully OMITTED, DISREGARDED that man's intrinsic value, BEFORE and BEYOND any ownership of any means of production, is AS MUCH IMPORTANTLY found in the scarcity of one's skills at a given POINT IN TIME (and location), and as measured by the demand / supply laws of the market; in other words : one's own skills, knowledge, and discovery endeavors potential, acquired by PAST experience, efforts, and risk taking, including successes AND failures (and personal tastes of course).

The plan, of course, was for him (and today's Globalists) to propose the central planners' "solution" (to the FALSELY single "problem" of the ownership of the means of production).

The infamy and deception of which "solution" we know ALL TOO WELL, still 100 years later.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

The only question is whether the machines will run things better

Than the banking a-holes.

First we will have predators and labors drones controlled by the elite, but what comes after?

Fight the Ron Paul blackout on the Daily Paul (now 'P AU L'), put his removed poster back as your avatar:

drones = skynet

there will be plenty of jobs fighting robots soon

your points are well taken

My previous comments are based upon current trends in our society - I just don't see government and large corporations simply going along with this merry new world.

It is great all the things out there - I tell my kids all the time they are living in the greatest time EVER - if they want to know something - anything - it is a google search away. They can run wild with imagination and make things happen we never could.

However, unless society changes, the inovations will be used against you - it is the way things are today.

The market system reaching its epitome?

Does anyone remember those obscure "movements" (like the Zeitgeist Movement) that talked about this stuff? They say that inevitably the market system won't be able to function because (this being just one reason given) automation, machine labor, machine thinking, etc., etc., will displace workers and slow/stop the money cycle.

I can see this pattern moving in the direction where the owning class of corporations and technology have a firm grip on mostly all wealth (er, or are where there already??), and people like truck drivers and other pure laborers are left competing against one another for all that's left in work and wages.

The 'structural readjustment' that's being talked about should be taken seriously in light of this. What can the market system handle? Will people work one day a week and have enough money to provide for all their needs, once human labor jobs have been displaced by non-human workers and automation?


may be the answer!

Ron Paul 2012; Rand Paul 2016

Perfect future for libertarians

There are so many commenters missing the big picture here. So many who can't see the forest for the trees. So many who have completely forgotten the principles of the free market we all so proudly promote here on DP.

I'm very involved with numerous companies bringing the latest technology to many different fields. These range from automating things to new machines to make everyday living much easier and less laborious. ...basically, everything being complained about in the comments below.

As a free market libertarian type (more minarchistic slanted even), I would say this is the best information we could possibly hope for.

Instead of allowing Monsanto to monopolize an industry to our demise, we may be soon able to produce our own food, our own way, locally and privately... and on a small enough scale that the government can't touch us. Picture a personal, customized aquaponics system in a box and you'll quickly see that the entire commercialized seed / farming / trucking / processing / shopping industry chain is removed from that part of the picture. Where did those jobs go? They were replaced with the self sustainability of the end customer. Ideally, that customer is now able to buy some piece of automated equipment one time and eat forever with no added expense. Who lost and who won in that trade?

Instead of paying x% premium on every product we receive from afar, maybe we will be able to in-source those products and save that x. Maybe a current trucker will trade his bank loan on a truck for a crowd-sourced loan to buy a truck robot so he can increase his profits while decreasing shipping costs.

Instead of giving so much control to big corporations who now can buy their own monopolistic laws, we could spread that corporate prosperity out among the masses so they can retire at age 30, not 72.

One past project clearly illustrates this very well. Years ago, I was confronted to make a face tracking turret firearm. So many concerns came up about control and self intelligence and liability and so on that the project was eventually scrapped. There was just too much code to write for economic feasibility. Fast forward to a couple years ago and we find kids writing Arduino code ($30 computer with open, sharable code and easy interface to any other devices) and putting it on the web. I've seen camera interface software for free with $80 hardware, face tracking code for free, motor controller s/w for free with $20 motors, gun sighting software for free and a user interface program (also free) that lets people set schedules, alarms, notifications, cell calls and texts, host web sites however they want. Basically, today that project could have done anything we dreamed of for under $250 plus the gun. The best part is that the code and the hardware are both plug and play. Very soon, all the devices will even have a standard interface like a USB port so even a soccer mom could do it.

How are "the robots" or their owners going to take over when we will probably be the owners? I'm thinking we will be putting them to work to support us both financially and other.

power source

What's missing is a portable endless power source that is 'on' 24x7 and will last your lifetime. Clue: LFTR

Ron Paul 2012; Rand Paul 2016

Forget nuclear

There are simply too demanding restrictions and monitoring requirements for it to ever be cheap. There are many other solutions that satisfy all your concerns.

By the way, why do you parrot the trap adjectives like 'endless'. All we care about is cheap, easy, 'green' w/e that means, and applicable to the need.

Think like a chess player.

The computer can think ahead, given sophisticated, ever increasing power, as well as the ability to network, all the computer would need to do is communicate.
We already see it in Siri, and other responsive applications, thinking a couple moves in advance, knowing that the power is limitless, the computer will be superior in every single measure. If it can beat you at chess, it can beat you at anything. As the codes are created and contained in the network, they will advance themselves one day. The network makes one computer as capable as all computers, linking them together makes them unstoppable.

They are stoppable

Pull the plug and everything is dead.

Ron Paul 2012; Rand Paul 2016

Wow, TED gets it right for

Wow, TED gets it right for once. This was much better than Michael's last TED post yapping about education being a fundamental human right.

I like TED

They provide a lot of good information. View this video: http://transatomicpower.com/company.php

Ron Paul 2012; Rand Paul 2016

That's wonderful. It doesn't

That's wonderful. It doesn't make everything they say fact however.

Permaculture is the single most powerful thing to come

David Holmgren: Beyond Sustainability

A true flower can not blossom without sunlight and a true man can not live without love.

I wish economies did not

run on energy :) Also, a little overstated was the effect on the bottom of the pyramid. If you look at the population as a whole, I think the results will be much worse.

Don't waste your time trying to be right, spend it trying to get better

Stolen jobs, stolen data

Cyril's picture

Hmm... debatable.

"TED: Are Droids Taking Our Jobs? (They are...but we ain't seen nothin' yet.)"

Hmm... debatable. Maybe we are given this impression by the lenses thru which we regard biased economies in which the laws of free markets have been violated for long already, and hence, where the balance between man's inventivity and productivity has also been insidiously biased, sometimes where we'd expect it the least.

Granted, and don't get me wrong, though, I am ALL for innovation and relieving man from menial tasks : and truly, great advances have been performed in the domain of algorithms and learning systems geared towards problem solving. But, IMO, we're still a long way to go before notions such as "creativity" and/or "design intent" can be claimed acquired by machines in any objectively measurable fashion.

I believe human intelligence intervention, at any point, soon or late, is still largely irreplaceable, even, and especially, in the matter of optimization vs. brute force approaches.

More specifically :

WHO is, STILL, responsible for devising and measuring the algorithms' strength criteria, along with the HARDNESS of the problems at hands to solve, in the first place ? (let alone : WHO decides that there are even problems to solve...)

Answer : man, precisely. Also, Turing machines / Turing complete executable notations still come only AFTER man's intent, as far as I know, and are the object of very passionate debates re: their expression power, usability, scalability, soundness, etc.

That said, Michael, you may find this pretty inspiring, too, btw :

"Start with the WHY, not the WHAT --
How Great Leaders Inspire Action" :


Another brilliant talk not to miss, IMO !

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Human thought might be overrated....

I hear what you are saying and i think you are making a flaw in your predictions.... In short, I do not think that humans will be the decision makers of the future.

Human thought is a computation based on time served as a human. ie: your mind works based on its computational power along with experiences for relevance. So, as computers become stronger, more capable, and more intelligent, the only real thing they will lack is experience. However once they start to learn from their experiences (i think some algorithms already do) and they figure out how to map those experiences, they will share that learning with a huge database (internet, other computers, etc.) and with the combined experiences of the world will become such an intelligent system that to believe it will not be able to make decisions and progress would be simply naive to believe that the power of choice, the power of asking why, etc will be solely left to the humans. In fact I would argue its already happening. In the 80's big blue beat kasparov in chess. Chess is a game of prediction, chance, and is staggeringly complicated as there are just a bewildering number of possibilities. Something like 100,000 move possibilities in the first 5 moves or something similar to that. Massive decision making skill and that was in the 80's and was better and faster than out best player in the world. I'm a technology professional, and though I love computers, gadgets and gizmos as much as anyone, i do not see a bright future. Jobs will be taken, people will starve from lack of work, and the more computers there are to do the bidding, the more that people will become expendable to the companies & shareholders. No, i do not see a great future, i do not think technology is the answer (or at least not while greed is still in the picture). In fact, the only way I see computers and their talents being a use to the people is in the case of a pure communist system where the profits of the companies is spread throughout the nation. In a free market system, only brilliant computer grads will have any chance at a living. The rest will be cattle. Make sure your children are smart as hell.

Cyril's picture


Wait. I'm an IT professional too, but it's hardly relevant. More relevant, IMO, is to believe in free markets and :

1. unpredictable human creativity
2. unpredictable human tastes and endeavors

On the other (evil) hand, planners, such as communists or central banking globalists, DO want to put entire peoples / nations, or the entire society in their secret spreadsheets. Seeing everybody (but themselves) as COMMODITIES, in their enslavement plans, by very definition. Free markets based on demand / supply and free individuals' endeavors, the corner stone of the United States of America's foundations, make for the exact opposite of that horror.

Information technology not only is very young but also isn't everything, and by far : we still rely on crops and animals to feed ourselves. We still rely on energy resources to relieve our own labor. We still rely on the blessings of nature for many things of our daily lives. If or when the SHTF, people who didn't see it coming at all and took no precaution for themselves in actual money for instance (silver or gold) won't care much any longer in getting the latest app or funny/random game of hype for their smart phone... they'll be much more concerned with how to keep food coming on their table. So, they might hold on to their devices, but that'll likely be for useful, non procrastination apps that time around...

The CFR and other Agenda 21 proponents / U.N. planners, confessing it or not, want to enslave us by forcing onto people group thinking, managed planning of people groups, and with a divide-and-conquer large scale propaganda and/or dumbing down.

A.k.a., "Give them bread and circuses."

This is because those planners, disgrace to humanity and the ENEMIES of free will, have always been craving for oligarchical privileges, with bureaucratic behaviors as they DO NOT produce nor innovate in anything : they are parasites.

I cannot do much more than to warmly recommend listening again to Ayn Rand, who had seen it all coming, with her words of wisdom, especially in her earlier life than later :



"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Unfortunately you are right

In the near future of technology - the only way for average people to survive will be through a communist model of redistribution.

No matter how smart your kids are - there will be 20 or so other kids in that class that need to eat - and in the world of technology - will simply not have the pure mental capacity to be gainfully employed in the IT field. For now it will be ok - those robots still need someone of general skills or of "trade" level to keep them running and maintain them - and of course - someone has to build them - so some jobs lost will be transferred to different skills. But at some point, the scales will tip.

The main flaw with what Wicked below says is that computers CAN start learning from themselves. All learning is is experience remembered - you learn by doing and correcting as the ability to store data and process that data continues to speed ahead it will easily surpass the human brain of the average person. Deep blue today would have a camera and be able to "read" the board, read the player and would be able to be active instead of reactive.

As another post pointed out - our drones are on their way to needing no human intervention. Pandora's box has been opened.


You assume many things. I disagree.

It's not communism that will prosper, it is the true free market. People will prosper more on an individual and local level which robs the monopolies of their money and power.

It's not the IT-smart people who will control the future. The innovative individual who can best make use of future technology will prosper the most. In a nutshell, today's TV repairmen don't control the vast sums of money in the entertainment/propaganda industry, do they? Movie and news producers do now, but where's it headed? The popular YouTubers are the new media elites of tomorrow. Same with every industry.

Yes, computers can communicate with each other and learn anything at all. They still need us to commission them to be built, sold, put to use and tasked to do something. No one is going to put up the money for the world's first 100% autonomous computer able to do and learn everything and then just let it wander the globe exercising it's own free will.

Even the drones that don't need human intervention to carry out their task still need human interaction to be given a task.

What WOULD be the ultimate game-over, Pandorean scenario? Putting communistic control in charge of those fully-capable robots!

There are several large holes

There are several large holes in that theory. Lets start with Blue vs. Kasparov, being both a chess player and having gone to school(albeit unfinished) for computer science, I have a different view on this. First, in no way is chess a game of chance...its all skill and how many moves you can see ahead...which is all well and good as long as your opponent makes the expected moves...but the problem comes when he makes a move you didnt expect....that changes the whole permutation of the game....so in general you can only look 20 moves ahead along a few different permutations before you reach your limit so you focus on the more likely moves your opponent will make and hope for the best, good players can recalculate very quickly(I myself am above average..won a couple tournaments back in HS etc, but am far from I consider good). What you have in Deep blue is enough computing power to see Every possible peemutation and how to turn it to its advantage. In short, Blue was not creating its own strategy...it was simply reacting to Kasparov the entire time...reaction vs creation. Computers do not and can not(with the possible exception of new quantum computers) think. Their whole world consists of 0 and 1 and how fast they can switch between to two alternatives. In a human brain(as illogical as it is) being a 0 does not preclude it being a 1...we can beleive two(or more) contradictory things simultaneously...much like the new quantum computers(christians and wars of aggresion is a great example).
Then there is the fact that Blue may have beat Kasparov...but that was its sole purpose....it can do nothing but play chess...Kasparov walked into that room...Blue had to be wheeled in, see the inherant problem here...you can have a machine that is perfect at making cars...but you will never have a machine that makes them can improve upon them....because all it knows is how to follow its code. You might argue that another machine could make improvements while the builder implements them...but they would only be improvements on paper...after all...wouldnt a hard composite plastic make a more durable seat than leather? My point is the very specialization required to beat a human at a specific application limits what they can do...an entire computer that can do nothing but play chess....Kasparov wrote many chess books...who really wins in the end?